Josh writes: "Obviously if you've read my blog (esp No More Covers) you know that I don't think everything in theatre is going great..." You know, I knew as I was getting ready to hit "post and publish" that the "you" in that sentence seemed to be pointing at you, Josh, and I didn't have time to change it before I went off to class. But I did not mean you -- I meant the wider version. No, I know you don't think things are great, and I have been in agreement with you for the most part about the artist and community.
You go on: "It's not that the work is provoking (and I actually think theatre is much tamer than it used to be, there are far less risks in theatre than in other mediums such as music and film) so it's not that the "artists" are driving the audiences away by provoking them - it's simply that a lot of "artists" in question have lost touch with their audiences and the audiences went somewhere else to be moved emotionally, intellectually and spiritually." I'm sure you know from reading previous posts that, again, I am in total agreement with you. I think that the objectification of the audience that is necessary to assume a hostile attitude toward them is much harder if you actually "know" your audience. I think about ministers who occasionally must deliver sermons that take the congregation to task for their actions or behavior. Afterwards, those ministers must stand in the doorway as the congregation leaves, and shake each person's hand and look him or her in the eye. I am told by several acquaintances of mine who are ministers that this has an effect on how they express themselves. It doesn't stop them from saying what needs to be said, but it affects how they say it. We in the theatre have the luxury of cowardice -- we bring the lights down at the end of the show and escape to the dressing room, never having to look anyone in the eye. Even this small thing might make a difference.
As you note, the high price of tickets also has the effect of distancing the artist from the audience. We need a new approach!